Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Sangmpam, Sang N.

Subject Categories

Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Research on the political economy of African states has often focused on explaining the roots of socio-political disfunction or has been pre-occupied with successful cases like Botswana, whose demography and social structures differ markedly from other states on the continent. This dissertation takes a different approach; it seeks to understand the developmental dynamics of successful African states whose peoples and societies largely reflect the majority of states on the continent south of the Sahara. The research question first asks why Ghana and Kenya succeeded in creating growth-enhancing economic institutions. Next it examines why, in the post-Cold War era, Ghanaian economic institutions linked to the external economy perform better than Kenyan institutions, while Kenyan institutions linked to the domestic and regional economy outperform those of Ghana. In order to answer the research question, I employ within case configurational analysis as well as structured focused comparison across cases. To avoid selection biases, I undertake case studies on two additional states, Tanzania and Cote d'Ivoire. I also employ a quantitative analysis using OLS regression to verify the impact of the two main independent variables, the presence of "core group" containing 50% or more of the population or that is 20% larger than the next largest group, as well as past experience with forms of African socialism. In each case, durable society rooted pacts ensure the creation of growth enhancing institutions in some sectors of the economy. The presence of a core group in Ghana, however, creates a set of "core related" factors leading to its uneven, externally focused development. Finally, the dissertation points to the idea the experience with a form of African socialism may in some cases, create durable patterns of economic institution making contributing to the autonomy of the state but also contributing to uneven, externally oriented forms of development.


Open Access